A gopher tortoise in its burrow

Gopher tortoise

Gopher tortoises rely on forest fires to clear their habitat of scrub and make room for edible plants to grow. Long and deep burrows shelter these tortoises not only from the fires but from predators. Other species rely on these burrows for their survival too.

Scientific name: Gopherus polyphemus

Rank: Species

Watch video clips from past programmes (1 clip)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.


Map showing the distribution of the Gopher tortoise taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Gopher tortoise can be found in a number of locations including: North America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Gopher tortoise distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status


  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 1996

Classified by: IUCN 2.3

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.